tv This Is America With Dennis Wholey WHUT July 22, 2012 10:00am-10:30am EDT
>> our guest is the former ambassador to botswana and a former member of parliament. so good to have you here. >> thank you for having me. >> we know so little about africa, we know so little about botswana. and i want to know, what would amaze the people to know about but one of? >> the main thing is for them to know that it is the best managed
country on the african continent. not only that, it is one of the least corrupt countries in terms of democracy. for us, democracy is part of our culture. when we do the things that a democratic state is expected of, it is because it was easy for us because it was already part of our culture. >> part of the culture? i am reading about botswana and i read stability, and as you mentioned, the least corrupt country in africa. this is part of a culture, huh? >> yes, it is. we have a system which is like an open court. there are disputes that we can
settle there. there is a plaintiff and a defendant. everyone and anyone is allowed to sit there. men and women. the chief presides over the gathering and this would be a case between the plaintiff and defendant. everyone is allowed to comment. is it for the plaintiff or for the defendant? no one will be told that their point is not important. that is real tolerance. then, now, we also use this as we continue to use it traditionally for disputes. >> so, anyone could bring a case? >> anyone and everyone can bring a case. your average village has no less than 10 or 12. now, the minister also used that system for consultation. you would have the effect of
title of education. having a policy that would call a meeting. at the meeting, anyone can stand up and say to the minister, we don't agree with this. >> does it get messy? >> no, it is very ordered. because part of the culture is to criticize within the concept that we call botho. this is humility. you are able to say you're different opinion with respect. >> how is the culture there so fascinating? how was it different from other african countries, even in the geographical areas? >> a lot of them do not know the system. they don't have it. i do not know why botswana has
this. south africa, when they get their independence, they came to botswana and they developed what they call the house of traditional leader. we call this the house of chiefs. it was independent before it was democratic. >> it was democratic before it was democratic. for 5 3/5 to 60's, it was a very poor country and now today, they say, one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. -- i read in the 60's, it was a very poor country. >> botswana was one of the poorest countries at independence. remember, botswana became a british protectorate by choice.
we went to britain to seek protection. and we were protected. then, came the 60's, we said we're ready for self government. we're alalso fortunate because we had excellent leaders. compassionate leaders, leaders who cared for the welfare of their people. they gave education the highest priority to this day. >> they say that it is a multi- party constitutional democracy. what does that mean in my language? >> that in your language means that if you are in botswana, and you want to form your own party, you are allowed. the law and the constitution allows you. as we speak now, we have about seven parties, two have been
dominant. the ruling party has been dominant. the opposition, it gets fragmented, they regroup. they allow us to participate freely in the elections. >> one of the things that interests me in my reading is that the president is indirectly elected. explain that. it is kind of interesting if we use that as our standard here. >> that is correct. systema's parliamentary is modeled on the british system. we have what is called constituencies. constituencies are represented by members of parliament. this is by city council or the
municipalities. what happens at election time is that you vote for your counselor and you vote for your member of parliament. the member of parliament has voted, they then vote for the president. so, that is the indirect portion of saying that the president is indirectly voted upon. so, every party at election that would have who in that particular area that they want to represent them at the minister tell the, who they want as a member of parliament. having gone through this same primaries like you do here, then they would get signatures of about 50 people to endorse their candidate to for the president. >> so, what is the name of the president now? >> his name is lieutenant general -- >> that would be tough.
what is his primary goal right now? >> his primary goal when he came into power, he came with hat he called the five d's -- discipline, delivery, democracy, self dependents or independence, and then he came also with the halves of excellence. this is like education, innovation. driving the country going forward. it was the area that the country needs to concentrate on to be a country of excellence. >> let's hold on that note. ambassador, as the ambassador from the republic of botswana and a fascinating opportunity
for us to learn about this very very special country. "this is america" visits the world. sit tight, we will be right back. "this is america" is made possible by -- the national education association, the nation's largest advocate for children and public education. the ctc foundation, afo communications, and the -- family trust. >> let's talk about some of the basics. how big is botswana? >> this is the size in terms of
area of the state of texas. >> oh, ok. >> in terms of population, about 2 million people. our number one revenue was diamonds. >> diamonds? i will get to that in a minute. as big as texas, 2 million people. sparsely populated. >> very sparsely populated. parts of the desert is in botswana. the most pristine forest area is found in the north and is part of botswana. >> so, a big tourist attraction? >> a very big tourist attraction. the country is driving tourism but also protection of the environment at the same time. >> this is a land-locked country, isn't it? >> yes, it is. >> as you mentioned, desert is a huge part of it. what is the definition of a doubt that? >> the rivers come in from all
over and goal and they come and they end in -- they come from all over angola and they end in botswana. we have all of the animals you can think of in the world. >> the capital is what? >> caswell tony -- >> how do you get there? >> from here, it would take you about 15 hours. you can fly from johannesburg right straight into the delta . >> you just mentioned animals, but i was thinking about -- this was an amazing thing, half of
the people have cattle? >> botswana has more cattle than people. we have 3 million cattle. >> and 2 million people. >> 2 million people. if someone has a lot of cattle, they are very dignified because cattle was the measure of wealth. so, people were excited about how many cattle they had. we export our beef to the european union. we have a very advanced and sophisticated beef-producing facilities. "does that mean that the people are living in mostly -- >> does that mean that most of the people are living in mostly
rural areas? >> i think 65%-7% are living in urban centers and in mining towns. -- i think that 65%-70% are living in urban areas. >> do they have their animals someplace else? >> yes. as a matter of fact, i think that is what impoverishes botswana. on average, the family keeps three homes. they have their home in the west, they have the home with the cattle, they have another home where they plow. in botswana, we are traditional land-powers. >> do you have cattle? >> no, i do not. my family does. i don't. i don't. >> well, you are the ambassador. you are here.
>> i have sheep. >> you have sheep. >> i have sheep, have coats, i have chickens. >> is that one of your three homes? >> no, i do it in the main home. i stay on as a little farm. >> what a nice way to go to. i grew up in the country, so i know some of that. >> my family has been into farming. >> but you are an attorney. how did that happen? >> it started when i was old. i started accounting and economics. 74-78, morgan state university. then, i did my masters at the university of cincinnati in ohio. after working for about 12 years, i went back to the university at home. then, a practice as a lawyer and
as a politician. >> then, in the government, you have been the minister of trade, tourism, transportation, and some other things as well? >> yes. i served under the fed president. i studied to the office of the president. then, as the acting minister of presidential affairs responsible for the army, for the public safety, and for the police. then i went as minister of trade. every time, it was trade, industry, tourism, and wildlife. >> in fact, now it has been broken. each ministry his 50 ministries, trade and industry, wildlife, tourism. then, i became the minister of works and transportation.
>> a lot of cell phones there? >> botswana has 99% coverage. as we move forward, we hope that these will be used to uplift the lives of the people. >> they use and now for commerce. >> yes. >> making deals for things. >> yes. >> the question is, you have had a wonderful career already. is it tough for a woman to get ahead there in botswana? >> no, not at all. as a matter of fact, a study has been released which shows that botswana needs 40% of the middle management -- that botswana has
40% of the middle management as women. we are doing badly in politics. a lot of women lose in primary elections. also, the country is flat. the constituencies are very large. to cover the area in campaigning sometimes is very difficult. i used to be a member of parliament with a very large constituency. >> you mentioned the diamonds. minerals are very important to the revenue of the country. diamonds, gold, uranium. >> we don't have uranium. the main product for us -- botswana is the main producer of diamonds by value. a lot of people have missed conceptions and think that it is other countries. -- have misconceptions and they think it is other countries.
botswana is the most peaceful country on the african continent. in terms of the global piece index, botswana in the 30's, the u.s. ranks in the 60's. we are very very peaceful. we are a very peaceful country. we have used our diamond revenues to give priority to education, which is given free from primary to university, to give free health care to our people. our problem is too much dependence on government. but, we have other challenges. we have at least managed to be free of corruption. >> you mentioned challenges. water and drought is a big problem. the overuse of the land, i'm not sure what they call back. -- i'm not sure what they call that. >> because of drought, there is not so much degradation of the
land, if you like. farmers are taught to do what is called rotational farming and rotational grazing. this means that you plow at some point, you give the land a break, and all of that. we have a very high environmental system. our president was recognized as for being the leader in the region. this was the international conservation -- >> a huge problem, however. i was stunned to read to this, hiv ais. just a huge infection rate. >> the government took that problem at a very high level. today, we are used as a model country to say what should
government do with hiv. >> you got gates, maerck, university of pennsylvania. >> the bill and melinda gates a foundation. they are our partners. our partnership with the u.s. dates back to 1967 when the country only got its independence. >> what progress has been made in that area? >> exceptional progress. mother to child transmission has been practically eliminated. even looking after the orphans, the victims in terms of balanced diet. there are testing centers everywhere. above all, education and a lack of stigmatization and discrimination where other countries are struggling with. what causes it.
we have investment. the government must meeting 1-1 with the donors. when they put $100, the government would put in $100. the country has done very well in terms of fighting this scourged. >> so, at one point, the life expectancy was in the 60's, and then it was down in the 30's. >> it went down to the 30's, but now we're looking at 50's. >> so, that shows the progress. >> the progress, yes. >> what has been the relationship between botswana and the united states? >> it has been exceptional. we take a long time back. we have for instance the law enforcement academy which is a partnership between the u.s. government and the government of botswana.
it teaches law enforcement not only to botswana but africa and the region. we have the peace corps who started development. i, as a young student, at the primary level, i was taught by some of the peace corps people. we have a lot -- myself and the other members of government, on a monthly basis, we update each other with what is happening. our relationship, not only that, but we have been honored with a visit from the first lady. former president bill clinton has been to botswana several times. the current secretary of state, she says to let the rest of africa followed the botswana model. >> when you presented your credentials to president obama, was that good?
>> it was scary. it was like we had gone to high school together. he is a good president. >> of, yes. we are very proud of him. >> i was very happy. i came on the 14th of february, i was presenting my credentials. >> i bet you make a good impression on him. i bet you did. >> i don't know. i hope i did. >> take a minute and tell me if we were to travel to botswana, what would we do, what would we see, what are our options, what would we remember? >> if you were to travel to botswana, my recommendation would be that you go from johannesburg to the capital city.
in the capital city, what we have to offer, we have the time and trading company, which will be relocating next year from london to botswana. you are allowed to go and see the diamonds. we have the mine where you are allowed to go and visit the mine, which is not very far from gaborone. you have the places where you would see traditional dancers to show you how part of our culture, how we used to dance. from there, we have our museums, which you would go a round on. then, you would go to the nearby village and you would see the court in action. any visitor must go and see this because that is the core, that is the foundation of botswana's democracy. >> we can go land, water? >> you can go by land, road.
you can see all of these animals in the world you have never seen in front of you. then, you can go to the delta. you will see all the animals, you will see the traditional dances, you will taste the traditional food. you will do fishing but catch and release for conservation. you do all of those sports that you can do it in the delta and see all of the animals. you can take walks. it does not end there. >> we have to end there. madame ambassador, thank you so much for coming and educating us about botswana. we want to go. you paint a wonderful picture. >> we would be glad to have you. >> thank you, ambassador.
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